The Times has compiled its list of the “best books of the last 125 years” as part of the celebration of the 125th anniversary of its Book Review Sunday supplement. Readers are invited to vote for their favorite on the list of twenty-five.
Here is the list:
1984 By GEORGE ORWELL
All the Light We Cannot See By ANTHONY DOERR
Beloved By TONI MORRISON
Catch-22 By JOSEPH HELLER
The Catcher in the Rye By J.D. SALINGER
Charlotte’s Web By E.B. WHITE
A Confederacy of Dunces By JOHN KENNEDY TOOLE
The Fellowship of the Ring By J.R.R. TOLKIEN
A Fine Balance By ROHINTON MISTRY
A Gentleman in Moscow By AMOR TOWLES
Gone With the Wind By MARGARET MITCHELL
The Grapes of Wrath By JOHN STEINBECK
The Great Gatsby By F. SCOTT FITZGERALD
The Handmaid’s Tale By MARGARET ATWOOD
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone By J.K. ROWLING
Infinite Jest By DAVID FOSTER WALLACE
To Kill a Mockingbird By HARPER LEE
A Little Life By HANYA YANAGIHARA
Lolita By VLADIMIR NABOKOV
Lonesome Dove By LARRY MCMURTRY
One Hundred Years of Solitude By GABRIEL GARCÍA MÁRQUEZ
The Overstory By RICHARD POWERS
A Prayer for Owen Meany By JOHN IRVING
A Tree Grows in Brooklyn By BETTY SMITH
Ulysses By JAMES JOYCE
Amazing. The Times included “Gone With The Wind,” currently on a progressive blacklist because of its politically incorrect portrayals of the pre-Civil War South and its African-American characters, and “To Kill a Mockingbird,” which has been similarly criticized lately for being too sympathetic to its Jim Crow era small town Mississippi whites.
There are also only seven female authors on the list. I would have expected the Times to move heaven and earth to get to 50% even if it meant including “Valley of the Dolls.”
The list is eccentric, even weird—I can think of, oh, maybe 100 books that I’d rate over any “Harry Potter” novel, but maybe Rowling was a beneficiary of the dearth of female authors—but that’s beside the point. The Times actually subordinated its instinct to pander to the extreme Left to the more serious and difficult task of determining literary merit.
There is hope.
Pointer: Ann Althouse